Drug use

Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)

The DAST is a standardized instrument used to screen drug abuse (Information sheet 25) (Gavin, Ross, and Skinner, 1989; Skinner, 1982). The two most widely used versions are the 20-item DAST and the 10-item version. The 10-item version appears to be just as effective in screening as the 20-item version (Villalobos-Gallegos et al., 2015). This instrument is mainly used in a clinical setting and its psychometric properties are acceptable (Gavin, Ross, et Skinner, 1989; Mdege and Lang, 2011). This instrument has rarely been used in population-based surveys and additional testing appears necessary before it is used. Montréal researchers validated a French translation in 2017 (Giguère and Potvin, 2017).

Detection of Alcohol and Drug Problems in Adolescents (DEP-ADO)

The DEP-ADO is an instrument developed in Québec that assesses alcohol and drug use among adolescents (12 to 17 years of age) and screens problematic use. It was developed mainly for interveners but is also used in population-based surveys (RISQ, 2016). This 27-item instrument is relatively long but it covers alcohol and drugs (Information sheet 24). It measures the consumption of at least seven categories of drugs over the past 12 months, alcohol abuse on a given occasion, and the adverse consequences associated with their consumption of alcohol or drugs. In Québec, it has been used in the Québec Health Survey of High School Students (QHSHSS) (Table 3). The instrument has acceptable psychometric properties. Some 80% of young people are classified correctly according to the DEP-ADO (Landry et al., 2005; Lécallier et al., 2012). It is regularly updated. Consequently, the questionnaire is not included in this toolkit but is readily available online on the Recherche et intervention sur les substances psychoactives – Québec website (RISQ, 2016).

Other questions on drug use

Since the instruments recommended previously appear to be less effective to evaluate a difference in drug use before and after an event, it can be useful to use questions related to drug use already presented in the population-based surveys, even if the instruments are not standardized.

The “Drug use” module in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) measures the use of certain drugs over the past 12 months, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, hallucinogenic drugs, solvents and injected non-prescription drugs (Statistics Canada, 2018). However, these statistics are not available from the Infocentre. The data on drug use available from the Infocentre are those drawn from the Québec Population Health Survey (QPHS), which more or less repeats the same questions in the CCHS (Camirand, Traoré and Baulne, 2016; ISQ, 2010). If the questions are used in a post-disaster survey, either a control group must be used to compare prevalences or data must be used from the QPHS or the CCHS from a period prior to the disaster to make a “before-after” comparison.

A module from the Québec Health Survey of High School Students (QHSHSS) measures drug use among Québec secondary school students. It is based mainly on the DEP-ADO.

It is also possible to directly ask the respondent if his drug use increased, decreased or remained stable after the disaster. A sample formulation to evaluate this behaviour is available in Questionnaire 21